PLEASE NOTE:  Publication for public comment is not, and shall not, be construed as a recommendation or approval by the Board of Trustees of the materials published.

SUBJECT:

Pro Bono Practice Program Rule 3.327 -- Proposed Revision to Reduce the Number of Years Required for Participation

BACKGROUND:

The Board of Trustees established the Pro Bono Practice Program (formerly called the Emeritus Attorney Pro Bono Participation Program) in June 1987 to encourage attorneys who otherwise would be retired from the active practice of law to do pro bono work. [Title 3, Division 2, Chapter 6 of the State Bar Rules.] In 2008, the Board approved reducing the number of years required for participation from 10 to 5 years, and to change the name to the Pro Bono Practice Program to reflect that more mid-career attorneys were participating in the program. This public comment notice seeks input on a proposal that would reduce the number of years of experience required, from 5 years to 3 years, in order to allow more young lawyers to participate in the program, and requests that the Member Oversight Committee grant permission to release the proposal for a 30-day public comment period, from May 14, 2012 through June 13, 2012.

DISCUSSION/PROPOSAL:

The Board of Trustees adopted the Emeritus Attorney Pro Bono Participation Program (“EA Program”) Rules in June 1987. The rules originally were created to encourage retired attorneys who otherwise would become inactive to represent low-income individuals on a pro bono basis. The retired attorney would become active for the purpose of doing pro bono work with a qualified legal services provider or certified lawyer referral service and the State Bar would waive the active membership fee. In the nearly twenty-five years since the EA Program was established, there have been four amendments with respect to eligibility:

  • adding judges (June 1991),
  • reducing the number of years of active practice from five out of last ten years to three out of the last eight years (December 1992),
  • reducing the total number of years admitted to practice law in a United States jurisdiction from fifteen to ten (September 1996), and
  • reducing the total number of years from ten to  five and changing the name by dropping the term “emeritus” (July 2008).

Under the existing Program Rules that require admission to the practice of law for five years and active practice for three out of the last five, attorneys who have been admitted less than five years are ineligible to participate in the program. The proposed reduction in years of admission required for participation in the program could potentially increase the number of pro bono participants by opening the pro bono program to younger attorneys.

ANY KNOWN FISCAL/PERSONNEL IMPACT:

None

ATTACHMENT:

RULES OF THE STATE BAR.  Title 3, Division 2, Chapter 6 — As Proposed to Be Amended

SOURCE:

State Bar Standing Committee on Member Oversight

DEADLINE:

5 p.m., June 13, 2012

DIRECT COMMENTS TO:

Lauren Calton
Office of Legal Services
State Bar of California
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105-1639
Ph. (415) 538-2534
Fax (415) 538-2524
E-mail: lauren.calton@calbar.ca.gov